CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

CFOs Say Business Innovation Is a People-First Exercise

7 CFOs on Why Business Innovation Is a People-First Exercise

There are three fundamental dimensions to business performance: financial, operational and cultural.

These pillars can also be compared to the long-standing management framework of people, processes and tools.

But what is most important is that the rapid transformation of the business landscape has increasingly reframed the calculus around each, particularly people and culture. While the advent of digital solutions and innovations like artificial intelligence are driving technology forward, and operational processes are being reframed in light of new capabilities, it is a company’s employee base that is responsible for identifying, implementing and capturing any benefits from both new and existing processes or tools.

Top chief financial officers have continually emphasized to PYMNTS during the “Day in the Life of a CFO” series that talent acquisition, retention and development remain the backbone of any successful company.

Done right, talent management can become a strategic weapon that not only creates competitive distance, but also materially enhances employee well-being — ultimately driving long-term growth and profitability. Headcount-related expenses tend to be one of the biggest cost centers most firms deal with, making it important to get them right.

On the other side of the coin, failing to attract the right talent in support of key objectives can send an organization into a spiral, leading to lowered productivity across existing teams.

Read also: 2023 Was Year of the Corporate Architect CFO; 2024 Will Reveal What They Built

Tapping Into the New Calculus Around Headcount and Growth

PYMNTS has been tracking how today’s CFOs sit at the center of effective process modernization, bringing traditionally manual and time-intensive workflows across accounting, financial reporting and treasury management into the 21st century by integrating innovative digital solutions into their departmental arsenals.

Modern CFOs must also undertake a similar exercise when it comes to hiring and resource management.

People are a company’s biggest assets,” NextRoll CFO Sue Choe told PYMNTS in June. “They can make or break any firm’s success and help you unlock the value of the business.”

The right people, their retention and their continuous development are paramount because people are the driving force behind innovation, adaptability and success, Cleo CFO Sameer Katiyar told PYMNTS in October.

“Our greatest asset is our team and their time,” Matthew Mandel, CFO and chief operating officer at Fleetio, told PYMNTS this month. “I’m a strong believer that it takes people with different functional expertise coming together to drive good outcomes.”

Echoing these sentiments, Bloomreach CFO Ninos Sarkis told PYMNTS in November that “the finance team is more important today than it has been historically. It is harder to grow, and we are asking the business to be more efficient, which means that teams will naturally come back to finance and say, ‘Help me get there. What can I do?’ You lean more on your finance team in times where there are less dollars for investment.”

The unpredictable macro environment, paired with the rapid pace of technological innovation that is continually reshaping how companies operate, has completely changed the needs that contemporary businesses have from their employee base.

See also: How a Six-Decade Old Management Framework Helps Today’s CFOs Thrive

Innovative Businesses Need Innovative and Agile Employees

CFOs need people who are flexible, adaptable and innovative to embrace change, streamline processes and drive continuous improvement initiatives within the finance function — particularly given today’s shifting macro backdrop.

“If you have good staff retention, change can be managed much more easily,” StoreConnect CFO Matt James told PYMNTS in December.

LiquidX CFO Abhishek Khandelwal told PYMNTS last month that the macro environment during the pandemic led to a surge in available capital, which triggered fierce competition for talent among companies, particularly in the tech sector. Smaller firms found themselves grappling with resource constraints amidst heightened demand for skilled professionals. This scarcity of talent spurred innovation — and investment — in automation, with technology becoming a strategic asset.

Looking ahead, Khandelwal noted: “If you want to retain good talent in today’s environment, you cannot give them something to do that is, for lack of a better word, boring.”

That’s why employees who are open to learning new skills, using emerging technologies, and challenging conventional practices can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and position their organizations for long-term success.

“When I look back, hiring for a senior accountant or accountant used to be very traditional,” Procurify CFO Amy Wang told PYMNTS this month. … But now it’s … so focused in terms of, ‘How do you leverage data? Do you understand the flow from a finance perspective of how we’re reporting things, how we’re ultimately providing this to the rest of the organization? How are you then working with the tools, not only within finance, but the rest of the organization?’”

“It’s still building out for scale, but instead of scaling with headcount, which we’ve traditionally been doing as a finance organization, it’s scaling with technology and leaning into automation,” Wang added.